News Releases

BUDGET: Senator Murray Calls on Republicans to Put Middle Class Families over Tax Breaks for Millionaires

Jul 06 2011

Senator Murray: Republicans don’t understand shared sacrifice, American families do.



(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), as a part of ongoing budget negotiations, spoke on the Senate floor calling on Republicans to stop protecting tax-breaks for oil companies and corporate jets over much-needed support for struggling middle-class families. During the speech, Senator Murray also called for shared sacrifice in the efforts to reduce the debt and deficit.

“I’m here to ask Republicans why they are asking everyone to sacrifice - except those who can afford it most. I’m here to ask Republicans why they are willing to risk, not only defaulting on our nation’s debts, but also: the health care and benefits our veterans rely on, pay for our troops, social security benefits, and the Medicare system our seniors are counting on. All to defend tax breaks for oil and gas companies, sweetheart deals for corporations, and the most generous tax rates wealthy Americans have enjoyed in 60 years,” said Senator Murray on the Senate floor.  

Read the full text of the speech below:

“Mr. President, there is no question that we are at a point where we have to take substantial and painful steps to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

“That is why we are rightfully working to tighten our nation’s belt at a time when American families are doing the same all across the country.

 “But today I’m here to talk about one major difference in the way Republicans have proposed to go about addressing our budget and the way American families - who understand shared sacrifice and equal burden – have done it.

“Today I’d like to point out one glaring omission in the Republicans plan amid all their tough talk about fiscal responsibility.

“I’m here to ask Republicans why they are asking everyone to sacrifice - except those who can afford it most.

“I’m here to ask Republicans why they are willing to risk, not only defaulting on our nation’s debts, but also: the health care and benefits our veterans rely on, pay for our troops, social security benefits, and the Medicare system our seniors are counting on.

“All to defend tax breaks for oil and gas companies, sweetheart deals for corporations, and the most generous tax rates wealthy Americans have enjoyed in 60 years.

‘Mr. President, sometimes it’s hard for me to listen to some of my Republican colleagues talk at length about their newfound fiscal sensibilities here on the floor and in the press.

“It’s difficult because - like many of them - I was here in 2000.

“I remember that when President Clinton left office we were on a course to completely pay down the $5.6 trillion debt by 2012. 

“I remember the projections of surpluses.

“And I remember the efforts by many of us to safeguard that funding for our seniors and to pay down the debt.

“But I can also remember at that time many Republicans couldn’t wait to get their hands on the nation’s credit card.

“And when they did – after President Bush took office – they spent lavishly.

“And Mr. President, a lot of that spending went to some of our nation’s wealthiest individuals and companies. 

“Throughout the Bush years - and particularly in the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 - trillions of dollars in tax breaks went to the very wealthiest Americans.

“There were capital gains tax roll backs. Tax breaks designed to benefit corporate giants. And a new tax bracket that provided wealthy Americans the lowest tax rates they have enjoyed since World War II.

“And these taxes breaks were all unpaid for, all handed out to those who could most afford to pay, and all put on the nation’s credit card.

“But today, now that that credit card bill has come due – guess who won’t be asked to pay their fair share?

“Unfortunately, under the Republicans plan, it’s the wealthy companies and individuals who have benefited the most from their spending.  

“It’s corporations like Exxon Mobil who despite reporting a profit of over $10 billion in the first quarter of this year –at the same time gas prices rose for families across the country - are being protected from a roll back of tax subsidies for oil and gas giants.

“It’s corporate CEOs who are now lobbying against closing the tax loopholes they enjoy for private jets and yachts.  

“And it’s companies - who all too often ship American jobs overseas - but who still enjoy offshore tax havens.  

“And guess who has drawn a line in the sand to protect these corporations and wealthy individuals?  

“Well, it’s the very same Republicans who were so quick to break out the nation’s credit card back when we were running a surplus.

“The same Republicans who have repeatedly pledged to block any new revenues - even as we have met them far beyond halfway in these negotiations.

“And finally, guess who it is that’s left to pick up the credit card tab under the Republican plan?

“Well unfortunately – it’s everyone else.

“It’s seniors who under the Republican budget will lose access to Medicare as we know it.

“It’s students that will be asked to pay more even as tuition rises.

“It’s family farmers.

“And those who can’t afford health care for their children.

“It’s all the middle class families that have found themselves living paycheck to paycheck. 

“If Republicans get their way, it will be everyone but those who can afford it most who’ll be left to sacrifice alone.

“Mr. President, unfortunately the Republicans’ approach is something that has become all too common in the aftermath of this recession.

“While the effects of this recession are being felt so profoundly by working families – in lost jobs, lower wages, and less financial security than ever before. 

“The very wealthiest Americans seem to be doing just fine. 

“On Sunday I picked up the New York Times and noticed they ran an article that showed that the salaries of CEOs at America’s largest companies grew by an average of 23% over last year’s mark.

“However, the same article noted that over the past year the pay for average workers had declined.

“And it didn’t even mention the thousands of layoffs at the same companies where bonuses have skyrocketed.

“Unfortunately, this is the same economic theory that Republicans are bringing to these budget negotiations.

“For those who can afford it - their budget provides all the perks, none of the sacrifices. All the tax breaks, none of the revenues. All of the benefits, none of the pain.

“But Mr. President, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can have a plan that works for middle class families and invests in our nation’s future.

“A plan that balances tough but necessary spending cuts with new revenues that ensure corporations and wealthy Americans are also paying their fair share.

“That restores fairness to this process by ensuring that in these difficult times we are not balancing our budget solely on the backs of seniors, students, and middles class families.

“And most importantly, a plan that recognizes that yes, we have a budget deficit—and we need to address that—but we also have an infrastructure deficit, an education and skills deficit—and most importantly, a jobs deficit.

“And the only way that we will address that deficit is to invest in education, in energy, and in infrastructure – areas that will produce jobs both now and into the future.

“A worker who lost his job through no fault of his own doesn’t just want to hear about cuts—he wants to hear about how we are going to create jobs.

“And a small business owner who had to shut her doors when the recession hit and customers stopped coming in doesn’t want to hear about debt ceilings—she wants to hear about how we are going to get the economy back on track.

“It can’t just be about slashing—it also needs to be about investing in jobs and workers here in America.

“And Mr. President – that is what we should be working together toward. 

“But I understand that time is not on our side in this debate.

“Because the truth is that Republicans aren’t merely offering their “everybody pays except the rich” philosophy up for debate – they’re holding our nation’s economy hostage with it.

“By refusing to accept new revenues from corporate tax loopholes, and tying that refusal to the nation’s debt limit, they are rolling the dice on default.

“In fact, in my 18 years on the Senate Budget Committee, I have never seen anything like what Republicans are willing to risk in these budget negotiations and who they are willing to risk it all for.

“Last week, the Bipartisan Policy Center put out a report authored by a former Bush Treasury official about what would happen if Republicans continued to play chicken with default and the Administration was forced to make desperate spending decisions in August.

“And the scenarios were worse than grim.

“Potentially at risk are: the benefits and health care we owe our veterans. Loans for struggling small businesses. Food stamps for those that are struggling to buy groceries. Social Security checks for our seniors. Unemployment benefits for the millions of workers desperately seeking jobs. And even active duty pay for our military.

“Yet by rejecting revenues in this deal - and by dealing in ultimatums rather than compromise - Republicans are willing to put all these Americans at risk.

“And they are willing to risk it all in order to go to the mat to protect trillions in tax breaks for the wealthiest few.

“They’re willing to chance loans for Main Street businesses in order to defend offshore tax breaks for multi-national companies.

“They’re willing to jeopardize troop pay in order to stand up for hedge fund managers.

“They’re willing to gamble default on tax breaks for horse tracks.

“I believe that’s a bet we all lose.

“Mr. President, we were elected to work for all Americans, not just the privileged few at the top. 

“It’s time for our Republican colleagues to come to the table with flexibility not ideology.

“It’s time for compromise.

“It’s time for common sense.

“It’s time to ask everyone to sacrifice to meet a challenge we all face together.

“Thank you.”